Guitarist Ray Goodman has been in the public eye ever since winning the Michigan State Fair Battle of the Bands with his High School group "The Invictas' in 1965. Playing the mid-60's sock hop scene for AM radio giants CKLW, WKNR and WXYZ the group performed with many of the biggest acts of the day including The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops and Dionne Warwick.
By the late sixties Ray was touring nationally with Captol Records recording artists SRC. Performing regularly at the famous Grande Ballroom, the group appeared with The MC-5, Ted Nugent, Dick Wagner and the Frost, Cub Coda, Iggy and the Stooges and many other groups from that era. His Guitar work is featured on "SRC: A Travelers Tale" on Capitol Records.
In late 1969 Mitch Ryder invited Ray to join his new band. This forged a friendship that has lasted for over 30 years and has literally taken him around the world. Ray has performed with Mitch in many of his bands and has appeared on several of his European recordings.
During the 70's Ray was active in the Detroit R&B scene as a Guitarist and Musical Director for the Holland/Dozier/Holland/Invictus label. During this period he played with many of the top R&B hitmakers including The Chairmen of the Board, 100 Proof Aged in Soul and toured with singer Ruth Copeland as opening act for Sly and the Family Stone. He also appeared on one of the last Motown albums recorded at Hitsville USA (now the Motown Museum) performing with ledgendary Funk Brothers Bob Babbit (bass) and Pistol Allen (drums) on Luther Allison's classic blues album "Bad News is Coming."
Ray spent the early 80's with MCA Records recording artists "The Automatics" performing on one album (unreleased) and doing studio work with many artists including ,David Ruffin (The Temptations) and Phillpe Wynne (The Spinners). In 1985 Ray purchased Reel Time Audio in Savannah, Georgia and finished out the decade producing award winning television and radio spots.
Since returning to Detroit in the early 90's Ray has divided his time between the studio and live performance, playing on national television spots and touring the U.S.A. and Europe with Mitch Ryder and other artists. In demand as a Recording Engineer/Producer as well as a Guitarist, Ray opened his new recording facility, Rancho Rayo Studios this summer.
From his early days with SRC and Mitch Ryder to his recent engineering work with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra live at Lincoln Center, Ray Goodman continues a musical adventure that spans the history of popular music. Come and see for yourself why Mitch Ryder calls Ray "One of Americas best guitar players."
Feature Interview Ray Goodman
MGS: First off Ray thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
Ray: Thank you, it's nice to be remembered after all these years. I now have 5 Grandkids & I'm somewhat shocked & awed that I still get to work in music for a living.
MGS: What got you into music initially? where did you get your first guitar?
Ray: I was lucky to be born at a time when our culture was undergoing drastic changes. Truman was President, there were only 3 television stations and 2 of them went off the air after 7 p.m. and we had apartheid in America. Radio was the great equalizer for me because the powers that were couldn't segregate A.M. waves.
I listened to radio for hours, searching the dial for different sounds and sometimes (if atmospheric conditions were right) I would catch a station out of Memphis that played what was then known as Race Music. Meanwhile, Sam Phillips was begining his experiments in cross culture pollination with a young white truck driver name Elvis and my life changed along with the rest of the World.
My first guitar was a small acoustic with hand painted hula dancers that my father bought for me. He found it in a pawn shop. I think the year was 1961. I still have it.
MGS:Who were some of your major influences growing up?
Ray: Everyone I could find! Things were different then, you had to work to find things. You couldn't just go to the record store and find Muddy Waters. Anything out of the mainstream had to be special ordered from Europe. Carl Thom (founder of Harmony House) got a major portion of my allowance in that regard. If I heard something that I liked I'd play along with the radio and try to learn it. The first song that I could kinda play was Honky Tonk by Bill Dogget. Let me just say that I stole from the best and I"m standing on some very big shoulders.
MGS:Can you give us a history of your playing career?
Ray:How much time do you have? ( See attatched bio)
MGS:What have you been up to lately? Anything to plug? Plug away.
Ray: I retired from the road in 1998 after 28 years of constant travel. Since then I've been a recording engineer for several companies in the area and had the honor of co-engineering the New York Philharmonic Orchestra Live at Lincoln Center in 2002. I also worked briefly as a technical advisor to Capitol Records and Sony Films. I opened my own studio last year ,Rancho Rayo, and have been recording local artists. I hope to record my first solo preject this year. I'm a member of the Knights of The Grande benevolent Society and we've been doing concerts featuring Grande Ballroom veterans around town. Watch for us.
MGS: What was the most memorable gig of your career?
Ray:Hard to say but The MC 5's farewell concert at the Grande comes to mind because they were so beaten down by the music industry by then that Wayne Kramer asked me if they could go on FIRST! My most memorable tour was in 1990 as opening act for Gary Moore's "Still Got The Blues" tour in Europe with Larry McRay. We did 78 shows in 75 days and I got to play with Albert King AND Albert Collins! Gary played 3 dates and would take 3 days off, but Virgin Records would book us in smaller venues on those off days. Albert Collins felt more comfortable hanging with us and sat in on almost every one of our gigs. He was such a sweet man and dear friend! I would tune his guitar for him because the British guitar tech would always screw upthe special tuning he used. I cried like a baby when I saw his old Tele hanging in theRock & Roll Hall of Fame.
MGS:Can you give us a current rundown of your gear these days? We are all tech heads here so spare no expense on details! Alot of the readers are pedal junkies.
Ray: I found out very early that guitars have no nutritional value whatsoever! It's far more important to nourish your soul and find your own voice than to obsess about gear. Luther Allison could plug a junky old strat staight into a rented twin reverb that hadn't ever been re-tubed and move Heaven and Earth! We use gear as a tool for self expression and self expression is what it's all about. That being said, I AM very particular about what I play through when I have a choice. My gear of choice is: My 1962 Strat (Brown Dog) that I've owned since 1970, Gibson 336 custom shop, Mark Bair's incredible Victorialux Amp and Bruce Egnaters amazing pre-amp designs. As far as pedals there is nothing digital in my signal path, I'm a big fan of Mike Piera's (analog man) 808 mods and compressors but lately I rely on Sean's new pedals 99% of the time. They've become the biggest wrenches in my tool box. Oh, And all my guitars are refretted w/ big frets by Michael Koontz.
MGS: Can you give us a pedal and amp rundown?
Ray:My pedalboard configuration is: A Teese wah RMC2 into a BossTU-2 tuner; the bypass output of the tuner goes to an ibanez t-909 silver mod by analog man then to Sean's Eternity pedal into an analogman chorus to a maxon analog delay and a love pedal.
The direct output of the tuner routs to a fulltone ultimate octave fuzz. to an analogman bi-comprosser to an analog man beano boost thats been modified for less treble. Both of these chains go to a Morely active A/B box and then to the Victorialux with 6L6's.
My other rig is an Egnater ie-4 preamp into a Randall RT2/50 stereo tube power amp into a VHT 2x12 cabinet. This amp is designed by Bruce Egnater and you can switch from EL 34'S to 6L6's with the click of a button! Simply brilliant! The ie-4 has so much gain that I don't need any distortion pedals but all other pedals are in the loop. This was my Mitch Ryder rig and I use it mainly in the studio now.
MGS:If you could play with one artist or group past or present who would it be?
Ray: I sometimes feel like I've already played with most of them. Bonnie Raitt or Sting would be nice.
The conversation would go as follows: Bonnie: "How much money?" Ray: "I can't afford much but I'll give you what I can."
MGS:Any players out there today that inspire you? Whats in your cd player right now?
Ray: I Love Los Lobos! Ilisten to a lot of Pat Metheny, Miles, Robben Ford, anybody who plays with passion and conviction gets my ear! One of the problems I've had on a local level is that the blues players think I'm a Rocker, The Rock players think I'm a Jazz player and the Jazz players think I'm a Bluesman. Dick Wagner says that they're all correct . I just can't help it and there's just too much great music out there to worry about the genre police!
MGS:Any new gear out there that youve been wanting to pick up?
Ray: My Wife thinks I want one of each, but I'm pretty content with what I have. More of Sean's pedals I guess.
MGS: I would like to thank you Ray. We really appreciate you taking the time to do this.